Parachutes, fairies and educating through opera

Friday 4 December 2009

Just coming out of the slight blues that accompany the end of most big projects – think In the Belly of the Horse was a really good one. Fantastic feedback from schools (children and teachers) – big part of the joy for me was working with such a fab young cast (Abigail Kelly, Emily Rowley Jones, Sam Boden, Maciek O’Shea and Chris Clark) – they all performed like rock stars, totally embracing their audiences, singing their hearts out, giving everything. Collaborating with people like this is pure pleasure. Almost feel guilty about it.

Straight away onto new things. Coming to terms with 2 pieces we are making around Dream. One for younger kids, the other for special needs (PMLD) students. Both look at the story of the fairies, and both have totally different creative teams. I was tempted to adapt one of the pieces (The Starry Welkin written by terrific composer Kate Pearson) for the other project, but it just doesn’t work like that. The more you focus totally on the audience (the client!) the better the result. Lots of discussion going on right now about the design worlds of these pieces. Tends to go something like this. Lou Wilson is designing The Starry Welkin. The second hand parachute arrived a few days ago which was going to become a night sky above the heads of the children. One good look at it though said it wouldn’t work like this, that it looked like material Titania and Oberon would wear, but that it should still remain a parachute. So… now struggling with the thought that it should appear with Bottom, as if he has arrived out of the sky. Bliss – the parachutist Bottom! But nagging doubts that this is just a total red herring. I find you just have to trust the accidental to force you into better choices. Or that’s the plan.

For the first time in years we are not in the middle of planning the next massive community opera. I sort of miss it, but not worrying about it does tend to make you sleep better. Came off my bike yesterday after an RCM workshop – the drugs supplied by A&E provoke great sleep. A lot of other things coming up – like the residency based on Lear at Dartmoor Prison in the autumn, our project with dementia sufferers in January, residencies in Wolverhampton, Preston and Bath. Doing some work with children in Bangalore in January, and looking forward to fresh creative inputs from them.

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